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Episode 134

 

Release Date:  March 15, 2011

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

 

Renee asked Benji to get revenge on Hunt for hurting Sierra.  Benji framed Hunt for snitching on Joba Branigan's drug dealing operation, and Hunt disappeared.  After learning of Benji and Sierra's Vegas wedding, Renee grudgingly allowed them to move into a cabana at Moonshadows, but still disapproved of the marriage.  Suzanne joined Warren Abbott and his followers at the compound in Death Valley.  Brooke was charged with attempted murder in Kyle's accidental stabbing. Miranda spoke to Gemma Sanders while in jail.  James learned that Ethan was sentenced to prison for killing his wife, Sophie Lawson.  Brooke was overjoyed when James confirmed that Ethan was alive.  Stormy gave Kelly a million dollars for R.J., but Neil had taken off with the baby and demanded more money for his return.  

 


  

Episode 134

"Strangers"

 

They say when you’re about to die your life flashes before your eyes.  Your biggest regrets and your greatest accomplishments all edited into a seamless movie reel complete with your own voice acting as narrator.  This was exactly what happened when Kyle Fenwick fell and inadvertently impaled himself.  His last thoughts before he lost consciousness were of the mistakes he’d made and how he’d correct them if given the chance, starting with the mountain of lies he’d concocted over the past six months.

Alex, I’m sorry that I hurt you,” he’d say.  “I really did care about you but you had too many personal crises and your drug usage was out of control.  Plus, looks-wise, Brooke had you beat by a mile.” 

“Brooke, I’m sorry that I told you I was Ethan’s half-brother,” he’d go on to say.  “But from the first minute I laid eyes on you I was head over heels in love. No wonder Ethan had it bad for you.  I forgot about everything else.  Hormones, you know?  But believe it when I say I love you.  That is not a lie.” 

“Finally, Ethan, boy did I do one over on you.  We became friends in prison and you asked me for one tiny favor which I couldn’t even do without making it all about me.  Yes, I fell for your girl.  I didn’t tell her you were out there waiting for her.  I pretended to be someone else just so she’d be interested in me.  Sue me.  But yes, I’m sorry.” 

The list went on and on.  Mackenzie, his estranged sister who simply wanted to be left alone.  James, who’d taken him in and treated him like a son.  So many regrets.

Luckily, it turned out not to be his time.  When his eyes fluttered open and he became aware of his surroundings, he breathed a sigh of relief.  Time to make good on his promises.   He turned his head and noticed someone seated beside him, her hand clasped around his. 

“You’re awake!” Marilee Wells-Walker screamed.  “I’ll call the doctor!” 

He shook his head and pulled her back with what little strength he had.  He motioned for her to come closer, which she did with a certain amount of trepidation. 

“What is it?” she asked. 

“I’m sorry that I lied to you,” he said hoarsely.  “I’m not your son.” 

Sierra Merteuil

Slivers of sunlight peeked through the blinds and awoke Sierra from a peaceful sleep.  She could tell before even opening her eyes that Benji was there, lying next to her, probably looking at her as she slept.  A smile crept its way onto her lips and she peered happily at him. 

“How long have you been awake?” she asked, stretching languorously in the soft sheets as her husband brushed his lips gently against hers. 

Husband.  That was going to take some getting used to.  

“Not long,” Benji replied with a sheepish grin.  He sidled up next to her in his underwear, penetrating brown eyes staring dreamily at her.  “I love watching you sleep.  You’re like an angel.” 

She grinned and kissed him again.  “Is this a dream?  It feels so unreal to me that we’re here, together.” 

“Unreal to you?  This is what I’ve wanted for I can’t tell you how long.  Probably since that first day I saw you at that polo game.  Definitely since that night at Paradise Cove.”

She traced her finger along his bare arm.  “You were my first,” she said.  “I’ll never forget that night.” 

“Neither will I,” Benji said while staring adoringly at her.   “I still can’t believe you’re mine.  After all this time and everything that’s happened…”

“Shhh,” she said and placed a finger over his lips.  “Let’s forget about everything that’s happened.   I don’t want to think about Hunt or Summer or Jeff or anybody else.  I just don’t want to look back, you know?”

He nodded warily.  “Anything you want.” 

“So what should we do today?” Sierra asked.  “On our first full day of officially being married?” 

He sighed and leaned in on his elbow.  “We’ve got some stuff to figure out, I guess,” he said.  “I mean, it was great of your mom to let us stay in the cabanas, but we should get our own place sometime.  And for that to happen, we probably need money.” 

“We’ll figure it out,” Sierra said hopefully, just as a knock at the door alerted them to a visitor.  “Who could that be?”

“I’ll get rid of them, whoever they are,” Benji said with a grin and twisted off of the bed while Sierra went into the bathroom to get a robe.   The cabana was a studio, with a bedroom and living room in one area, making privacy virtually non-existent.

He grabbed a pair of jeans and pulled them on while walking to the door.   Behind him, Sierra emerged in a pink robe. 

“Get dressed,” Jordan said when Benji opened the door.  “You’re coming with me.” 

Benji swallowed hard, then turned his head and looked at Sierra hovering across the room.

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy was pacing the family room at the Blackthorne mansion when the door opened and Kelly entered, clad in jeans and a black halter top that boasted plenty of daring cleavage.  Immediately, his eyes went to her in a rage. 

“Where the hell have you been?” he demanded angrily.  “I told you to be here at eight.” 

“I don’t get up until noon, so you’re lucky I’m here this early,” she shot back while flipping her mane of black hair from her eyes. 

“Our son is missing!” Stormy screamed.  “You honestly can’t drag your ass out of bed knowing we may never see him again?”

She rolled her eyes.  Neil is just toying with me,” she said.  “I know him.  So you’ll have to come up with some extra cash.  Big deal.  You need to relax, Stormy.  God, you’ve gotten so serious.” 

He set his eyes on her and stalked across the room until they were inches apart.  “You’re in on this with him, aren’t you?” he demanded, pointing to nothing in particular.  “You know exactly where he’s keeping R.J. and you’re not saying anything because you’re a greedy little-“

“Kelly!” a voice shrieked from the doorway.

When she turned, Leilani came bounding toward her and pulled her into an embrace.   “Hi mama,” she said. 

“Kelly, it’s so good to see you!” the housekeeper bellowed.  “I didn’t know when I’d ever see you again!”

“Well here I am,” she said with a certain amount of fanfare.  “I can’t believe you’re still working for these people, mama.  When are you going to learn they’re not your family?  You’re a servant, end of story.  I wish you’d move out of here and get a real job.” 

Stormy could see the hurt in Leilani’s eyes, so he quickly came to her defense.  “Leilani is a part of this family, Kelly,” he insisted.  “Particularly now that she’s my baby’s grandmother.” 

“It’s true?” Leilani squealed.  “You had a baby?  Kelly, why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’ve been kind of busy,” she said with a groan while plucking an apple from a bowl on the coffee table. 

“Yeah, and now her latest boyfriend has taken off with him,” Stormy interjected.  “Which I’m not entirely sure isn’t just a ploy you and him concocted.”

“What do you mean?” Leilani inquired, a bleak look crossing her pudgy face. 

“Nothing,” Kelly said dismissively. 

“Your darling daughter never told me I had a son,” Stormy said.  “Instead she sold him to my mother and then arranged for him to be kidnapped by a lunatic talent agent.” 

“Oh Kelly,” Leilani said, her eyes turning red and watery. 

“Don’t listen to him,” she argued.  “I had nothing to do with Neil taking off with him.  But I’m telling you, he can’t have gone too far.”

“You don’t know that,” Stormy said.  “And I’m tired of waiting.”  He went to the phone and grabbed it from the table.  “I’m calling the police.” 

“You can’t do that,” Miranda said when she and Eddie entered the room.  

“What are you talking about?” asked Stormy, mid-dial.  “My son has been kidnapped.  We’ve already waited too long as it is.”

“Stormy, if you get the police involved they’re bound to find out what mom and Jane did,” Miranda reasoned with him.  “I know you hate them both right now, but do you really want to send them to jail?  Think about what you’re doing.”

“I can’t just let this psycho get away with taking R.J.!”

“He won’t,” Eddie assured him with a pat on the back.  “We’ll get your son back, buddy.  I promise you that.” 

Brooke Taylor

Brooke received word that Kyle had awoken, so she told Kenny she would meet him at the hospital right away.  It was vital that they talked to him.  His account of what happened in the Cahuenga Room was the only way to get the attempted murder charges against her dropped. 

“I got here as fast as I could,” she said, breathlessly, purse pulled tightly over her shoulder.  “Have you seen Kyle yet?  Can I talk to him?”

“Not yet,” Kenny told her.  “We have to wait for the D.A.  He’s been held up in court and should be here any minute.” 

Brooke shook her head adamantly.  “I can’t wait,” she said.  “I have to talk to him.” 

“Brooke, I wouldn’t-“

But before he could finish his sentence, she was bounding inside the hospital room where Kyle was laying, propped upright against a pillow.   When their eyes met, she paused, suddenly overcome with discomfort.  The last time she saw him she was angrier than she’d ever been in her life.  Now, with the news that Ethan was alive, confirmed by James, she didn’t know how to feel. 

“I was hoping you’d come,” he said.  The color had returned to his face and his eyes had their usual sparkle.  They rested on her intently, as if drawing her closer. 

“Are you feeling okay?”  She felt obliged to ask.  It was her fault that he was there, after all.

“Getting there,” he said.  “Look, I know you must hate me-“

“Just tell me how you could do it,” she cut him off.  “How could you go for months and months knowing that Ethan was alive, and never tell me?  Not just for me, but for Michael?  I told you what the child psychologist said about him having abandonment issues because of his father dying, and yet you said nothing.” 

“I feel bad about how this affected Michael.”

“And what about everyone else?” she continued.  “Never mind me.  What about James and Miranda and Stormy?  His family?  You just decided to let them grieve and not say a single word.” 

“I had every intention of telling you the truth about Ethan when I came to town,” Kyle said.  “It’s why I came here.” 

What?”

“Well, not the initial reason.  I came to clear my name and to set the record straight about what happened in New York at that hotel.  Ethan asked if I would break the news to you while I was here.” 

“Break the news to me?” Brooke asked with a scoff.  “Nice way of putting it.” 

“He didn’t want you to find out he was in jail,” Kyle went on.  “And since I had the connection to David, it only made sense that he’d ask me.” 

“So why didn’t you?” she demanded.  “Instead you charmed me until I went to bed with you.  Throughout that whole ordeal in Mexico I thought you were this stand up guy.” 

“I fell in love with you,” he admitted.  “I knew if I told you he was alive you wouldn’t have given me a second look.  It’s selfish, I know, but-“

“Selfish?” she exclaimed.  “It was beyond selfish.”

“I wanted to tell you so many times,” Kyle said.  “But every day I fell in love with you more and I thought about what my life would be like without you in it.  I wasn’t thinking clearly.  That’s the affect you have on me, Brooke.”

“So this is my fault?” she asked, raking her fingers through her hair.

“No, but-“  He sighed and looked at her with his intense brown eyes.  “I know you think I’m a monster, but I’m not.” 

“You told me that you were Ethan’s brother,” she said.  “That was a calculated lie, Kyle.  You knew exactly what you were doing.” 

“I was desperate!” he exclaimed.  “You wouldn’t give me the time of day before I told you that.  And in prison Ethan told me all about his father and what kind of man Will Thomerson was so it was easy to come up with a plausible story.”

“How convenient for you,” she said.  Suddenly she didn’t want to hear any more about his lies and justification for doing so.  She needed one thing from him, and then she never wanted to see him again.  “They charged me with your attempted murder.”

“What?  It was an accident.” 

“They don’t believe me.  You have to tell the D.A. what happened in order for them to drop the charges.”

Silence followed as Kyle looked across the room in a daze.  After a few moments, he looked into her eyes.  “Give me a chance to make this up to you,” he said.

“What?” she asked in a shrill voice. 

“I’ll tell the D.A. but you have to promise to hear me out.  Let me prove that I’m not a bad guy.  I made a mistake.”

“A mistake?” she asked.

“Love makes you do crazy things,” he said.  “Things you thought you could never see yourself doing.  Then all of the sudden, there you are doing them.” 

“That doesn’t change the fact that you let me believe Ethan was dead for months longer than I had to.” 

Ethan let you believe he was dead,” Kyle said.  “If he wanted you to know he would have told you.  Contrary to popular opinion, you do have certain rights in prison.  He could have phoned you.  If you need to be angry at anyone, it should be him.”

“Are you going to tell the D.A. or not?” she asked.  She didn’t want to hear about why Ethan didn’t reach out to her.  The prospect was too painful. 

“Are you going to give me a chance to make this up to you?”

She looked at him in disbelief, shaking her head.  “No, you son of a bitch.”

With that, she turned and bolted out of the room.  Kenny attempted to stop her but she barreled down the hall in a rage. 

Benji Rydell

After getting dressed and leaving the cabana, Benji and Jordan walked along the trails at Moonshadows, rounding a corner near the tennis courts where there was a flurry of activity.

“What do you want?” Benji asked.  He was still angry.  Angry that his father had taken his mother’s side when she asked him to leave their house.  And angry that when he went to him days later he turned him away like he was some kind of stranger.  

“Do you know what your problem is, Benji?” Jordan asked, squinting through the harsh morning sunlight. 

He rolled his eyes.  “No, but I’m sure you’ll tell me.” 

“You don’t think about what your actions do to other people.  Your mother’s book was a prime example.  Not the only example by any means, but a damned good one.  Do you know that I lost my studio because of the bad publicity that damn thing brought on?”

“I didn’t write the book,” Benji said belligerently.  “Sounds like you should blame mom for writing that piece of trash in the first place.”

Jordan shook his head.  He did blame Suzanne.  But Benji’s intentions were far more sinister than his ex-wife’s. 

“It’s never your fault, is it?” he asked.  You’re the victim.  You aren’t responsible for your actions.  That’s what you’d like us to believe, anyway.” 

“I don’t have to listen to this,” Benji said.  “You threw me out, remember?  I came to you and asked for a second chance and you turned me away.  Now you’re bringing all of this up again.  Why?”

“Because what you’re doing to Sierra is just another example of your destructive behavior,” Jordan said.  “I know you published that book to prove some kind of point with your mother and I.  To punish us.  And that’s exactly what you’re doing by marrying Sierra.” 

“Sierra has nothing to do with the two of you,” Benji admonished.  “She’s the only person in my life who isn’t a constant disappointment.”

“Do you think you’re in any way emotionally ready for this kind of commitment to another person?  Jesus, Benji, you’re so filled with anger and resentment that it immobilizes you.  It drives you to do unspeakable things.  What kind of environment is that for a relationship?”

“Don't worry about it,” he said, angrily folding his arms.  “You threw me out, remember?”

“It concerns me because Renee is a very dear friend of mine, and Sierra is like a daughter to me.  I will not let you destroy her the way you’ve destroyed everything else in your life.” 

His words cut like a knife.  Memories of the same speech he’d gotten from Duke before he left town came flooding back to him.  It was precisely why he nearly ruined things with Sierra in the first place.  Somewhere inside he knew what his father was saying was true.  But he owed it to himself to prove him wrong. 

“I would never hurt Sierra,” Benji said adamantly.

“Maybe not.  I hope not.”

“Look, Sierra and I are married, so deal with it.  And tell Renee she’ll have to deal with it too.  We’re happy and we’re in love and there’s nothing either of you can do about it.” 

“Listen to yourself,” Jordan said, shaking his head.  “Just the way you’re talking to me proves that you did this to stick it to me.  And that’s fine.  You can do your best where I’m concerned.  I’ve learned how to deal with it.  But bringing an innocent young woman into it is cruel.” 

“I told you I would never hurt Sierra,” Benji said.  “I love her.  And if you think our getting married was some attempt at sticking it to you, then you need to get over yourself.  Why don’t you worry about your own fucked up life and leave me alone?” 

Watching him turn and go, Jordan called after him.  “Your anger is going to destroy her too, Benji.  You know it will.” 

But Benji continued walking, ignoring his father’s remarks.  When he got back to the cabana and Sierra emerged from the bathroom in her robe, he went to her immediately, drawing her into a deep, passionate kiss.

“How did it go?” she asked when they broke free.  “Was your father as pissed about our marriage as my mother?”

Benji kissed her again, leading her to the bed while peeling the robe from her petite body.  “Forget about my father,” he said.  “You’re all I need.” 

Succumbing to the way he ravished her, Sierra threw her head back and closed her eyes.  His warm lips on her neck and shoulders sent chills up and down her spine.  She immediately grew aroused.  When he entered her, however, it was rough and robotic.  She could feel the rigidity in his body.  She could see the dark brooding in his eyes as they stared blankly at her. 

“Not so rough,” she whispered, running her hands through the back of his hair.

It took a few moments, but he became aware of what he was doing.  Taking his aggressions about his father out on her.  It seemed to be a habit that he needed to break.  Using sex as a weapon in the past was one thing, but he was determined to not make the same mistake with Sierra.

But the anger still simmered beneath. 

Suzanne Rogers

The typical day at New Abbott began before the sun came up.  Exercises, yoga, and meditation all happened before the first ray of light even peeked over the mountains.  This was most likely because the sweltering heat of the day in Death Valley proved too intense for any kind of physical activity.  Suzanne began to relish the cooler temperatures the mornings brought. 

Warren’s followers, and Warren himself, were incredibly welcoming since her arrival at the compound.  Each day after lunch in the dining cabin there was an exchange of kindnesses that every follower was to participate in.  Its purpose, according to Warren, was to “fill everyone’s bucket” with as much positive energy as they could handle.  A key component of his philosophy on self esteem improvement. 

When it came Suzanne’s turn, she rose from her table, nervously smiling at those around her, and addressed the group with a slight quiver in her voice. 

“Well, I’ve been here for two days so far,” she began, slightly calmed after a reassuring look from Ross who sat beside her.  “Everyone’s been so wonderful.  I can’t tell you the last time I felt this good about myself.  It’s like all the demands people had of me before don’t exist anymore.”

“Because you’ve taken back the power, you’ve taken back the glory.”  Warren spoke to her from a table across the room.  He nodded to the people on either side of him.  “This world is filled with too much hostility as it is without putting more of the same on ourselves.  The purpose of New Abbott is to look for ways to find our inner power.  To stand up for ourselves and tell the world hey, we’re not going to let you stoke our fire.  Each of us has the power to come to enlightenment about our own worth.  No longer will we tip-toe through the rubble.  No longer will be run through the flames.  We’re here to triumph in the inner power.” 

“Triumph in the inner power,” the group all repeated in unison. 

Warren rose and walked to Suzanne.  “Suzanne, will you help us spread the word about New Abbott to the people and help to build us into a city of empowered souls?  Will you take that pledge with us?”

She nodded.  “Yes, I will. “

“Then you may stay as long as you please,” he continued, staring at her with his tranquil eyes and caressing her hand with his.  “And continue to learn the teachings of New Abbott.”

“Thank you,” she said, elated as she saw the followers smiling at her.  She’d never felt so at peace and accepted in her entire life.  Everything else seemed a million miles away.  Jordan, Benji, Lon.  She was finally living for herself. 

Stormy Blackthorne

Stormy and Eddie went back to the Beverly Hills Hotel and, after promising a role in the next Sunset Studios picture to the fame-seeking security guard, were allowed access to the security tapes from the night Neil took off with R.J.  Luckily everyone in L.A. was an out-of-work actor.

“Jesus, this was like two minutes before you and I got here,” Stormy said as they watched the tape of the corridor outside of Kelly’s hotel room.  “If we’d gotten here that much sooner he wouldn’t have had a chance to get away with R.J.” 

“Don’t beat yourself up,” Eddie said as they scanned the tape in slow motion.  “This Neil Winslow seems like a crafty son of a bitch.  He would have found a way to get what he wanted regardless.”

“Wait a second,” Stormy said.  “Go back a few frames.” 

Eddie rewound the tape and paused it on a frame with Neil walking down the hall, R.J. bundled tightly in his arms. 

“What’s that in his right hand?” Stormy asked and pointed to the monitor. 

Eddie zoomed in on the blurry object.  “Looks like a bus ticket.” 

Immediately, Stormy jumped up from his seat.  “Come on, let’s go find out where he went.” 

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda decided she couldn’t put it off any longer.  She needed to confront her mother and there was no time like the present.   When she arrived at her apartment at her Beverly Hills high rise, she walked silently into the living room, arms pulled taut across her chest. 

“Has there been any word?” Alex wanted to know.  “Did they find R.J.?”

Miranda turned and glared her mother.  “Give me one good reason why I should tell you anything? 

Alex lunged forward.  “Because I’m concerned!” she exclaimed.  “If Kelly had anything to do with his disappearance I’ll never be able to forgive myself for letting her leave with him.” 

“None of this would be happening if you’d come clean in the first place,” Miranda said. 

“I did come clean,” she said.  “I told Stormy the truth.”

“After you paid Kelly so she’d give you R.J.  After you lied to everyone about where he came from.  After you had poor Jane committed to a sanitarium against her will!  The damage had been done, mother!”

“I’m sorry,” Alex cried.  “I don’t know what to do.  I’ll help any way I can.  I just want Stormy to get his son back.” 

“You should have thought of that before,” was Miranda’s cold reply.  “You’ve done some hurtful things in your time, mother, but this is the worst.  How could you do this to your own son?  Keeping him from his baby?  I don’t blame Stormy for washing his hands of you.  I have half a mind to do the same thing.” 

“Miranda, you can’t,” Alex pleaded.  “I’ve lost so much already.  Please don’t turn your back on me.  I know what I did was unforgivable, but I’ll find a way to make it up to Stormy.”

“How?”

She shook her head.  “I don’t know.  I’ll pay the ransom.  I’ll sell everything I have to get that money so he can get R.J. back. I’ll do it.”

“It won’t change what you did,” Miranda said.  “You’ve always thought about yourself before anyone else, and this time it went too far.  Not only have you lost your son, but he may have lost his son.  That’s just something that you’re going to have to live with.”

James Blackthorne

“I’m sending the jet for you,” James said from a hotel room in New York City.

“James, there’s already so much going on here,” Kenny told his friend from his office at the marina.  “I don’t know how much more I can handle.  I’m sure you heard that Brett arranged a merger with Rydell Productions.  The media is all over this thing.” 

“Not the kind of thing I wanted to hear in the middle of all of this.  I don’t know what he was thinking.  But I’ll deal with Brett later.  Did the D.A. drop the charges against Brooke?”

“Yes.  Kyle corroborated her story.  But James, I’ve got my own problems,” Kenny snapped.  “I don’t like leaving town with things so messed up between Renee and I.  Now that I’ve got your family’s legal problems sorted out for the most part, I need to do everything I can to make this up to her.” 

James sighed and walked around the hotel room.  “I’m sorry for what you’re going through with Renee.  I really am.  And I appreciate everything you’ve done to help Brooke and Miranda.  I wish I could have been there when all of this went down, but right now getting Ethan out of prison is-“

“You know I’ll help, James,” Kenny said with a sigh and a waive of his hand.  “Renee won’t talk to me anyway.  Maybe after a few days she’ll open up to me.”

“So you’ll come right away?” James asked.

“Yes,” Kenny said, closing his briefcase and rising from his chair.  “Email me the transcripts from the trial and I’ll study them on the flight.  Hopefully by the time I get there I’ll have come up with something we can use in the appeal.”

“Thanks, Kenny.  I owe you.”

Miranda Blackthorne

Miranda didn’t think she’d be back at the county jail so soon, but there she was.  At least this time she was only visiting.  As she sat down at the visitation window and picked up the phone, she couldn’t help but wonder why she’d been summoned.

“Thank you for coming,” Gemma Sanders said from behind the window.  Her lustrous blond hair, usually teezed beyond comprehension, was flat and listless, framing her round face that bore no trace of makeup.

“Don’t thank me,” Miranda replied.  “Just tell me what you want.  I can’t imagine you and I have anything to discuss.” 

“You’re wrong about that,” Gemma said.  “We have a lot to discuss.”

“Cut the melodramatics and get to the point,” Miranda said with a sigh.

“It seems I’ll be behind bars for a bit longer than I’d anticipated,” Gemma began.  “Two to five years, to be exact.” 

Miranda shrugged and flipped her hair over her shoulder.  “That’s what you get for employing whores for a living.” 

Gemma gave a small laugh.  “Well, that’s not why I’m going to prison.  It seems the IRS was tipped off to some discrepancies with my income reporting.  No doubt I have your father’s legal eagle, Kenny DeWitt to thank for that.” 

“Let me get this straight,” Miranda said with a smirk.  “You’re the most infamous Hollywood madam since Heidi Fleiss, and they got you for tax evasion?”

“Some things are easier to prove than others,” Gemma said.  “Look, just so you know, I wasn’t out to ruin anyone’s marriage.  Jackie Lamont asked me to deliver a message.  Now it’s got me going to a women’s prison for the next decade.  Don’t think this is any fun for me.”

“Whatever deal you made with Jackie is between the two of you.  What does any of this have to do with me?”

Gemma leveled her dull blue eyes on her.  “Because I need someone to take over my operation.”

Miranda blinked a few times, waited a few moments, and when Gemma didn’t continue, she practically fell off her chair.  “You want me to take over for you?  In the call girl business?  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m pregnant.  Not many men are into girls in my condition.” 

“You don’t have to sleep with the men,” Gemma said.  I never did.  Not once.  I need someone to oversee the business.  There are a dozen girls out there who have no idea how they’re going to make it without me.  I need someone I can trust.  They need someone they can trust.” 

“You’ve got the wrong girl,” Miranda said, shaking her head. 

“Do I?” Gemma inquired, all business.  “Look, you’re a savvy, connected, beautiful young woman.  You took Hotel Terranova from no-tell motel status to a world class resort all by yourself.  Plus you don’t put up with anyone’s shit.  This opportunity was made for you.  Give me one reason why you shouldn’t do it.” 

“Uh, because it’s illegal,” Miranda said with a frown.  “Look where it got you.” 

“I’m in here because of a grudge a jilted bridegroom had against me,” Gemma told her.

“You could have been arrested a long time ago.  You were just lucky.”

“Let me tell you something you probably already know, Miranda, but it bears repeating.  This town is run by men.  Men think about sex approximately every seven seconds.  If that wasn’t the case, you’re right, I would have been in here a long time ago.  But everyone looks the other way because let’s face it, there aren’t many men who would oppose paying a few thousand dollars to be with a beautiful woman from time to time.” 

“I don’t condone prostitution,” Miranda snapped.  “I think it’s disgusting.”

“The girls who work for pimps down on Hollywood Boulevard – the ones who shoot up in the alleys and fuck without protection in dirty bathrooms in filthy bars – yeah, I’ll give you that – they’re disgusting.  It’s all they know.  They took a few hard knocks and they were on the street before they knew it.  My girls are different.  They’re smart.  They’re classy.  They’re educated.” 

“If they’re so smart, then have one of them take over for you.” 

“They don’t have the business sense that you do,” Gemma said.  “Think about it, Miranda.  Your father has Sunset Studios, he’ll no doubt hand it down to your brother, and what will you have?  This could be your opportunity to do something of your own.” 

Miranda stared at her blankly for a few seconds. 

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” Gemma prodded her. 

“That you’re crazy,” she said.  “Goodbye.”  With that, she slammed the phone down and darted off.  When she got a few feet away, she turned back and went to the phone.  “And how dare you think I would be involved in anything so….gross!”

Gemma watched as she dropped the phone again and stomped out of the visitation area.

Renee DeWitt

Renee pleaded with Sierra to meet her for lunch alone, and after a great deal of resistance, she finally agreed.  They took a table in the Cahuenga Room and sipped iced teas amidst the tropical foliage, awkward silence filtering around their table. 

“Doesn’t it make you uncomfortable being here?” Sierra asked her mother as she grimaced at the spot where Kyle had bled onto the floor.  “I mean, with that guy getting stabbed, and the wedding not happening…” 

“No use crying over spilled milk,” Renee said with far more strength than she actually had.  While she’d refused to cry over Kenny any longer, she still had a nagging feeling of disappointment over their broken engagement.  “And I hear Kyle is recovering quite nicely.  Not a minute too soon, either.  I need him to come back and run Moonshadows for me.” 

“It always amazes me how quickly you can turn your emotions on and off,” Sierra said with a certain amount of dejection.

“How do you think I’ve overcome such obstacles, darling?” Renee asked with a knowing glance into her eyes.  “Men haven’t been good to me in my life.  Not since my father, your grandfather was around.  I kicked into survival mode years ago.”   

“And you think that since you’ve been hurt in the past, that the same thing will happen to me?” she asked. 

“Well, look at what’s happened, sweetheart?” Renee said with as much sensitivity as she could.  Malcolm and Hunt?  They both hurt you so badly.  I don’t want to see that happen again.”

“It won’t,” Sierra maintained.  “Benji is nothing like Malcolm or Hunt.  He’s special.” 

“Special how?”

“He’s special, okay?” Sierra said defensively.  “I don’t know why you disapprove of us so much.  His parents are friends of yours.  It isn’t as if he’s some stranger I met on the street.  I know him better than anybody.” 

“I doubt that,” Renee said.  She looked at her salad and grimaced, her stomach too upset to think about eating.  “There are things about Benji that you have no idea about.”

“Oh really?”

“Really.  Like did you ever wonder why Jordan and Suzanne threw him out of their house?”

“Their lives are so screwed up,” Sierra said.  “It’s for the best he doesn’t live there anymore.  Look how they lied to him for his entire life.  He grew up believing his father killed his mother.  If Benji has a few issues, it’s no wonder with people like that in his life.” 

“It goes deeper than that,” Renee said with a heavy sigh.  “Sierra, he’s done things that-“

“I don’t care, okay?” Sierra cut her off.  “There’s nothing you could tell me about Benji that will make me think our getting married was a mistake.”

“Not even that he was the one who published that book?” Renee asked, leaning forward and staring into her eyes.  “He knew it would destroy their family and that’s exactly why he did it.  That’s why he’s on his own.”

Sierra picked at her lunch, pretending she did not hear her.

“And what about that girl?  Summer Solomon.” 

“He didn’t do what she said he did,” Sierra exclaimed.  “She admitted that she lied.”

“Sierra, he has done nothing but cause trouble since he got here,” Renee insisted.  “Manipulating, lying, scheming.  Do you know what he did when he learned that Hunt Roberts got you hooked on drugs?”

“Hunt left town,” Sierra said.  “Benji didn’t do anything to him.” 

“Hunt has been missing since the morning after Magnum Rainer’s birthday party,” Renee told her.

“How do you know?”

Renee looked away briefly, then decided it was best to reveal everything to her.  “When you were in the hospital and we didn’t know if you were going to make it, I casually mentioned to him that I wanted Hunt to pay for what he did to you.  He said he’d take care of it.  That was weeks ago.  No one has heard a word from Hunt since then.” 

“He’s back in New York.”

“He isn’t,” Renee said. 

Sierra grew frustrated.  “Okay, so what are you saying?  That Benji killed Hunt?  Get serious, mother, I-“

“No, I’m not saying that,” she hissed.  “All I’m saying is that when Benji is involved, people get hurt.  You’re not exempt from that, baby.” 

“I’ve heard enough of this,” Sierra said, dropping her napkin on the table and sliding her chair out. 

“Sierra, don’t,” Renee pleaded with her.  “I’m just trying to help you.”

“I don’t want your help.  Why can’t you just be happy for me that I finally have someone in my life who isn’t going to use me or hurt me.” 

Rising from her seat in despair, Renee watched helplessly as her daughter tore through the club and out the French doors.  In frustration, she threw her napkin down and tried to think of something she could do to get through to her daughter.

Kenny DeWitt

Kenny parked his car in the hanger at the private airport and climbed out with his trench coat thrown over one arm, his briefcase dangling from the other.   The jet was standing by and he caught the pilot’s attention with a waive of his hand.   As he made his way across the tarmac, a car pulled up alongside his and Brooke jumped out in one hurried motion. 

“Kenny, wait!” she called after him.

“Brooke, how did you know I was here?” he asked and turned to her. 

“I’m still a forty percent shareholder in Sunset Studios,” she said simply.  “I know when the jet is being prepared for a trip.”

“I can’t talk right now,” Kenny said. “Can this wait until I get back?  James is expecting me in New York.” 

“I know, and I’m going with you,” she said, opening the back door of her Mercedes and removing a small travel bag.  

“I don’t think James is going to like that,” he said.  “We have a lot of work to do when I get there if we’re going to file this appeal.”

She looked defiantly at him.  “Look, the father of my son, the love of my life, is sitting in prison in New York.  I haven’t seen him in a year and a half.  I’m going with you.” 

Realizing there was no arguing with her, he sighed and watched as she made her way toward the jet. 

Eddie Distefano

Stormy and Eddie emerged from the Greyhound bus station downtown and proceeded to Stormy’s car parked nearby.  

“That was no help whatsoever,” Stormy said with defeat.  “Of course Winslow paid cash for his bus ticket.  He’s not stupid.” 

“And now we have no way of finding out where he went with R.J.” Eddie said, pausing next to the open passenger’s side door.  “Now what?” 

His question was answered when Stormy’s cell phone rang and he fished it quickly from his pocket.  He answered instantly, climbing into the car and fumbling for his keys. 

“Neil just called,” Kelly said from the family room at the Blackthorne mansion where she waited with Leilani.

“What did he say?” Stormy demanded.

“He said he wants five million dollars by tomorrow at noon.”

“Five million?” Stormy asked incredulously.  “That son of a-“ 

“He said he’d call back and let us know where to bring it.”

Stormy clenched his fist and punched the steering wheel with all his strength.  “If you’re lying to be, I swear to God I’ll-“

“I’m not lying, Stormy,” Kelly said, looking down as Leilani closed her hand over hers.  “Mama and I have been talking.  I want to find R.J. as much as you do.  Believe me.”

Sighing, he clicked off the phone and looked at Eddie.  “How the hell am I going to get my hands on five million dollars by noon tomorrow?” he asked.   "My father's gone and-"

Eddie shrugged.  “You might not have to.”

“What do you mean?  He’s got my son.” 

“Do they ever give money to kidnappers on TV?” Eddie asked.  “No.  Trust me, buddy.  I’ve got a plan.” 

Ashton Childers

Before she went back to the cabana, Sierra decided to take a quick walk along the beach to clear her mind.  She couldn’t bear to look Benji in the eyes after her mother tried poisoning her mind against him. He would know immediately that something was wrong, and she refused to give her mother the satisfaction of knowing her smear campaign had worked.  Or at least shaken her a bit.

With her shoes in her hands, she let the cool water snake around her feet before it retreated back into the ocean.  Glancing ahead, she saw a group of people, young kids around her age, and noticed one of them stopping and looking back at her. 

“Sierra?” he called and withdrew from his group so that he could approach her.  “It’s me, Ashton Childers.” 

She smiled while pushing a flyaway lock of hair from her eyes.  “Yeah, I know.  Ashton.  How are you?”

“I’m good, how are you?” he asked if she had reason to not be.  “Haven’t seen you around much since Magnum’s bash.”

“Yeah.”

“Pretty messed up night, huh?” Ashton asked.  He was twenty-one and medium height with brown hair and penetrating brown eyes.  He was the youngest child of famed actor Jack Childers, who still hadn’t come back from his extended vacation in Greece for fear of the Blackthornes retaliating for leaving them high and dry during the Mexico kidnappings.  “I mean, Jeff getting killed and you overdosing on whatever Summer Solomon slipped you in your drink.”

“Yeah, it was crazy, that’s for sure,” she said, not wishing to dwell on the details of the night.  “Well, nice seeing you again, Ashton.” 

He watched as she started back up to the path.  “Hey, so what have you been up to?  Hunt’s not around anymore so I guess you decided to stay in L.A.?”

“Yeah,” she said.  “My mother’s here and-“  A pause while she looked at him.  “What do you know about Hunt?  I mean, do you know where he is?”

Ashton shook his head. “No, nobody does.  Well, I’ve heard things but I don’t know if they’re true.”

“What kind of things?” she asked as the wind blew her hair into her face. 

He shrugged and looked around the beach.  “There was a rumor that he snitched on Jeff and Joba Branigan just before Jeff died.  Cops raided their apartment in the Valley and everything.  Joba’s been on the run since.  Anyway, I heard that they got back at him somehow.  Someone said they found a severed finger in the desert and it belonged to Hunt.  Had his class ring on it and everything.”

“That’s insane,” Sierra said. 

“Probably something someone made up,” Ashton told her.  “You know how people can be.” 

“Yeah,” she said thoughtfully.  How could her mother have insinuated that Benji would have had anything to do with Hunt’s disappearance? 

“So I’m just hanging with some friends,” Ashton said, switching gears.  “You wanna join us?  I think we’re going to some clubs later.” 

She didn’t really hear him, but shook her head anyway.  “I have to get back, but thanks.” 

He nodded.  “Cool.  Hey, is it true what I heard?  That you and Rydell got hitched in Vegas?” 

“Yeah,” she said dismissively, jogging up the hill to the path that led back to the cabanas.

Ashton stood behind, watching her go before turning and rejoining his friends on the beach. 

Jane Wheeler

Eyes red and puffy, Jane Wheeler paced around her tiny apartment off Sepulveda while Miranda sat on the old worn sofa staring up at her. 

“Once we find R.J. and Stormy has time to really sort through what actually happened, he’ll forgive you, Jane,” Miranda was saying.  “Wait and see.   I know my brother and he’s not the type to hold a grudge.  My mother, on the other hand, he may never forgive.” 

“But he thinks I knew R.J. was his and deliberately kept him from him,” she cried, flipping her long blond hair over her shoulder as she stopped for effect.  “Miranda, I swear that is not what happened.  I didn’t know where your mother got R.J. from.  If I’d known she practically stole him I wouldn’t have gone along with her plan.” 

“You don’t have to convince me. I’m not as stubborn as Stormy is.  He refuses to listen to reason most of the time, which is usually why he gets himself into these messes in the first place.” 

Finally, Jane stopped and sat down beside her.  “Do you really think he’ll be able to forgive me?” she asked hopefully. 

“Yeah, definitely.  Like I said, he doesn’t hold grudges.  Except with my mother.  And Brett.  Oh, and Kelly.  Oh Jesus, I guess he does like to hold grudges.”  She looked at her with a wince, worrisome eyes staring back at her. 

“Great,” Jane said, getting up and pacing again.  “So his ex-wife is really back?  What’s she like?”

Miranda sighed.  “Well, first of all she’s not technically his ex-wife.  They never got divorced.” 

“What?” Jane exclaimed.  “He never told me that.” 

“I guess in a way Stormy always hoped she’d come back.  I think he really did love her at one time.  But now that’s all out the window, especially since he met you.  Jane, he really does care about you.  I’ve never seen him this into a girl before.  He wouldn’t have broken you out of a rehab facility otherwise.” 

“Yeah, and it got you arrested in the process,” Jane said.  “I feel so bad about that.  Everything that’s happened has been my fault.” 

“No, it was my mother’s fault.  And my father’s lawyer will find a defense to get the charges dropped so don’t worry about me. If anything, worry that someone is trying to recruit me to be the next Hollywood madam!”

“What?” Jane exclaimed, stopping mid-pace. 

Miranda waived a hand dismissively through the air.  “Don’t ask.  It’s just more craziness to add to everything else going on lately.  I mean can you imagine?  Me a Hollywood madam?”

Jane laughed and sat down beside her again.   “I just want this whole thing with Stormy to go away.  I want things back the way they were before I got sent to that treatment center.” 

“It will,” she said and hugged her briefly.  “Just give it time.”

Renee DeWitt

Renee walked across the living room of her penthouse at Moonshadows and pulled the door open just as another knock alerted her to a visitor.  Standing in the hall, Marilee Wells-Walker sighed with exasperation and hurried inside. 

“You’ve got to fire that cretin Kyle Fenwick,” she said.  “I mean, get him out of Moonshadows before he does any more damage.” 

“Marilee, what are you going on about?” Renee asked.  “The man is your son.” 

“No, he isn’t,” she said and turned to her angrily.  “He lied.  Will Thomerson wasn’t his father, which means I’m not his mother.” 

“He lied?”

She nodded.  “To serve whatever campaign he had going to seduce Brooke Taylor.  And did you hear that Ethan Blackthorne is actually alive?”

Renee sat down on the sofa.  “No, I didn’t,” she said.  “How can that be?” 

“Apparently he got mixed up in something and went to prison and that’s where he met Kyle.  Instead of coming here and telling Brooke that he was alive, Kyle decided to move in for the kill.  He let me believe that he was the son I gave away all those years ago.  I actually lied awake at night because the guilt was too much for me.  How can someone do something like that?”

“Oh Marilee, I’m so sorry,” Renee said, rubbing her friend on the arm.  “I certainly don’t condone what he did to you and to everyone else, but I can’t let him go right now.  He’s just too valuable to lose.”

“So you’re going to give him the opportunity to take advantage of you too?” Marilee demanded.  “Because the minute you let your guard down, he will.”

“I’ll see to it that that doesn’t happen.  I may have suffered fools before but no longer.” 

“You’re talking about Kenny, aren’t you?”

“Partly,” Renee said.  And Sierra and Benji.  I’m just not going to let anyone hurt me again, and I’m certainly not going to let anyone hurt my daughter.” 

“Benji Rydell can be very manipulative when he needs to be, Renee,” Marilee confessed.  “You may want to watch your back if you’re going to wage some kind of war against him.  I mean, what does Suzanne have to say about all of this?”

“Suzanne left,” Renee said somberly.  “Jordan doesn’t know where she is, or doesn’t care to know.  Either way, she isn’t going to be much help where Benji is concerned.” 

“You don’t think she…” Marilee began, tip-toeing over her next thought as if it were a land mine.  “…had another breakdown, do you?  Like after that whole ordeal with Victor and Jordan years ago?”

Renee shook her head.  “I certainly hope not.  Don’t get me wrong, I hope she’s all right, but I am disappointed that I can’t count on her to help me with this matter.” 

Suzanne Rogers

That evening at the compound, Suzanne sat by the bonfire with Ross positioned beside her.  The rest of the followers were busy interacting as well, leaving them time to discuss her first two days of enlightenment. 

“Is it everything I told you it would be?” Ross asked, stoking the fire with a long stick. 

“I love it here,” Suzanne volunteered.  “I honestly feel better about myself than I have in fifteen years.”  She closed her eyes.  “All those mistakes I made.  The affair with Brett, remarrying Jordan and letting him control me.  I can’t believe I let myself fall into that trap again.” 

“Warren has a way of bringing those things to light and guiding you to ways of correcting them.”

“Well he’s very good at it,” she said, then stared into the fire.  “What did Warren mean this morning about spreading the word about the group?” 

“Most of us recruit new members,” Ross explained.  “We find people who need guidance and self awareness and show them the ways of New Abbott.  It’s how you came to be with us here,” he added with a wink. 

“I don’t really know anyone that I could recruit,” Suzanne said, a worried look spreading across her face.  “I mean, most of my friends and acquaintances are so self involved.  I honestly can’t imagine them finding the purpose here that I do.” 

“There’s got to be someone,” Ross said.  “A friend, a family member.” 

She shook her head.  “What if I can’t recruit anyone?  Will he ask me to leave?”

Ross went back to stoking the fire.  “There are other ways to contribute to the group,” he said.

“What ways?  I’d like to do anything I can.  I mean, everyone’s been so welcoming.  I just want to repay them in some way.” 

“Some followers have made monetary contributions,” Ross explained.  “It takes money to spread the word of Warren Abbott, after all.” 

“Oh,” Suzanne said with a shrug.  “I have some money.  Not much, mind you.  I haven’t worked in years.  I was basically living off of what Jordan gave me in support checks each month.” 

“Anything you have will help,” Ross told her with a gleam in his eye.  “And will certainly cement your place with us among the compound.” 

The decision was made, Suzanne decided.  “Okay,” she said with a smile.  “I’ll get what I can.” 

“Excellent,” Ross said, making eye contact across the fire where Warren was watching them. 

Moonshadows

When Sierra returned to the cabana, Benji was flipping through the channels on the television.  Once he saw her, he switched the TV off and went to meet her at the door.  

“How was lunch with your mom?” he asked, kissing her tenderly on the cheek.  “I expected you back hours ago.” 

“It didn’t go well,” she said, sad eyes looking downward.  “I just needed some time alone after.” 

“I’m sorry.”  He led her to the sofa and sat down beside her.  “I didn’t think this was going to be such a big deal for everyone.  I don’t understand why if we’re happy why they can’t be too.”  

She nodded, still thinking about the things her mother said to her, as well as Ashton’s description of Hunt’s disappearance.  

“It’ll just take time,” Benji continued, gently holding her hand in his.

She looked into his concentrated brown eyes and managed a faint smile.  She knew Benji had a tendency to react extreme to certain circumstances.  He always had.  And she also knew that others had tried to make him look far guiltier than he really was.  Case in point was Summer Solomon’s phony claim that he’d tried to rape her. 

All she knew was the man who had taken her virginity and treated her with such care and tenderness wasn’t the sociopath everyone made him out to be.  He genuinely loved her, and unlike Malcolm Harris and Hunt Roberts, he wasn’t just using her. 

Brooke Taylor

A car was waiting for them when the Sunset Studios jet arrived in New York.  While Kenny had spent the flight making notes for Ethan’s appeal, Brooke couldn’t stop thinking about the day James and David came to tell her Ethan was dead.  She’d refused to believe it, knowing in her heart and soul that he was still alive.  They, of course, told her she wasn’t thinking logically.  They’d found the car, burned to ashes on the side of a broken highway.  Now, a year and a half later, she was told that she’d been right. 

“What is she doing here?” James demanded when he opened the door of his hotel suite and Kenny led Brooke inside.  “Kenny, I thought-“

“It was my idea, not Kenny’s,” Brooke insisted.  “James, I have to see him.  I have to see for myself that Ethan is alive.” 

James sighed and rubbed his eyes.  “I understand that, but this is not going to be a pleasant couple of days.  We have a lot of material to go over from Ethan’s original trial and then we have to get a judge to hear our appeal.” 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Brooke said firmly.  “So get used to me being here.” 

James exchanged glances with Kenny and reluctantly agreed.  What choice did he have?   They ordered up some dinner and ate in the room while James filled Brooke in on everything he’d learned. 

“Who was this woman?” Brooke asked.  “Where did he meet her?”

“The daughter of the man who pulled Ethan out of that burning car,” James explained.  “She and Ethan were…close.” 

Brooke looked at him and then at Kenny.  “Close?  What do you mean?”

James had decided it wasn’t the time to tell her that Ethan had married Sophie Lawson.  With every other surprise they’d been delivered over the past few days, that was one detail he didn’t think she could handle. 

“They all lived in a very small house together,” James said dismissively.  “Anyway, the point is we have to find something, anything that shows the prosecution flubbed the case.  Kenny, did you find anything in the transcripts?”

“As a matter of fact, I did,” he told him.  “I read the arrest record and at no time during Ethan’s processing in the county jail or at Arthur Kill were his finger prints ran through their database.” 

“The finger printing’s usually done at the time of the initial arrest, right?”

“Yes, to check if the perpetrator has any priors,” Kenny went on.  “This tiny backwoods town where the arresting officers hailed from did nothing to verify Ethan’s – or should I say Dan Cody’s – identity.”

“And if they would have, they would have realized his name wasn’t Dan Cody,” Brooke surmised. 

“Exactly.  By failing to do one simple print check, they neglected to give him the opportunity to hire a private attorney or to contact someone who could do it for him.  He was carrying identification stating he was in fact Dan Cody, but ID cards can be faked.  He was living with amnesia for over a year.”

“Do you think that’s enough?” James asked.  “Can we use this in the appeal?”

Kenny shrugged.  “I’m going to try.” 

Ethan Blackthorne

The next morning, Kenny and James were permitted to meet with Ethan in a private consulting room at the prison.  Against James’s better judgment, the warden allowed Brooke to join them.  James and Kenny were seated at the metal table while Brooke paced nervously around the room.  When the door opened and the guard led Ethan inside, Brooke stopped and looked at him in wonderment. 

“What is she doing here?” Ethan demanded, looking at his uncle.  “I thought it was just going to be us.”

“Ethan-“ Brooke started, immediately distressed by his reaction. 

“You can’t blame her for wanting to see you,” James said.  “She had to come.”

“I can’t do this,” Ethan said, agitated.  He barely made eye contact with her.  “I can’t see you right now.” 

“That’s too damn bad,” she said, a remark which silenced the others in the room.   She looked at the guard.  “Would it be possible for us to have a few minutes alone?”

“Brooke-“ James said, shaking his head. 

“No, it’s fine,” Ethan said with a sigh.  He looked at the guard and nodded.

“Five minutes,” he said and waited while James and Kenny filed out of the room. 

After the door was closed, Brooke looked at Ethan and crossed her arms over her chest in an attempt to chase away chills that ran up and down her body.  They were both silent for a few moments until she finally decided to break the ice. 

“Kenny thinks he’s got a loophole that could get your sentence overturned,” she said.  That was it?  That was all she could come up with after coming face to face with the man she loved more than anything in the world. 

He looked at her and nodded briefly.

“So with any luck you’ll be out soon,” Brooke continued.  And what then?  He comes home and they pick up after the earthquake like nothing happened?   Somehow she didn’t think that was possible. 

“Yeah,” he said in a muted, gruff voice. 

With a sigh, she ran her fingers through her hair.  She wasn’t going to do this.  They had five minutes and she was determined to make the most of them. 

“You have no idea how much I’ve missed you,” she finally said, which prompted him to finally meet her gaze.  Tears formed in her eyes and she wanted nothing more than to go to him and hold him.  She thought he would feel the same, but when he didn’t make a move toward her she quickly hardened.  “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Why didn’t I tell you?”

“That you’re alive!  Why didn’t you tell me that you’re alive!”  Tears quickly went away and were replaced with anger and resentment. 

“I didn’t know who I was,” he said.  “I hit my head in the earthquake.  By the time I started to remember, a whole year had gone by.”

“You could have told me then,” she insisted.  “But instead you sent Kyle to tell me for you.  Why?  Why couldn’t you have picked up the phone and told me yourself?”

“I didn’t want you to find out that way,” he said.  “How would you have felt if you’d picked up the phone and it was a recording telling you that you had a call from an inmate facility?” 

“I would have felt relieved that you were alive!” she screamed.  “My God, Ethan, we had plans before that damned earthquake!  We were going to go away together.  You, me and Michael.  We were going to get married!” 

He fought back the overwhelming urge to scream back at her.  “Don’t you think I would have done all of that if I could have?  It was out of my control.  Fate intervened and-“

“Fate?” Brooke lamented.  “Kyle Fenwick intervened!  Do you have any idea what he did to us?  To our future together?”

“You mean because you fell in love with him?” was his cool reply.

She looked away.

“I saw you together,” Ethan told her.  “On the news coming back from Acapulco.  I saw the way he held you in his arms.” 

“That wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been selfishly keeping your existence a secret.” 

“Selfish?” he demanded. “I was trying to spare you!  If I’d told you I was alive and in prison, we still couldn’t have been together.  I would have been locked up in this hell hole while you carried on with Kyle.” 

“You don’t know that,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.

After a few minutes of awkward silence, Ethan looked at her again.  “Is it true that he pretended to be my brother?”

She nodded.  “A masquerade he was able to pull off because you gave him all the information he needed to do it.  We would have been strangers otherwise.”

“So it’s my fault that you fell for his lies?” Ethan demanded.  “It’s my fault that you thought you were falling in love with my brother!  What was it, Brooke?  You wanted to find out how we compared in the bedroom?”

“Don’t be like that,” she said.  “I thought you were dead.  What was I supposed to do?”

He shook his head in frustration.  There were no easy answers.  And when the door opened and the guard motioned to Brooke, he knew they weren’t going to get any today. 

“Time’s up,” the guard said. 

She looked at Ethan and when he didn’t react, she grabbed her purse from the table and headed for the door.  “Fine,” she said and stormed out of the room, pushing past James and Kenny in the hall. 

Stormy Blackthorne

The money drop was to take place in the parking lot of Pavillions Marketplace on Santa Monica.  A clever attempt of Neil’s to prevent a scene, Stormy wagered.  With mid-day business at its peak, there were people, and witnesses, everywhere. 

He sat in his Cobra II watching the front of the store.  Next to him sat Kelly, who Stormy insisted accompany him.  If this was indeed a setup orchestrated by the two of them together, he was determined to find out.

At Eddie’s urging, they bundled the same million dollars he’d tried giving to Kelly back at the hotel with strips of blank paper hidden beneath the front facing bills.  It was doubtful that Winslow would take the time to count every last bill before handing R.J. over to them.  He hoped the plan worked.  If not, they were screwed because coming up with five million dollars in that amount of time was nearly impossible. 

“I wish you would trust me,” Kelly said as she flipped through the Sirius channels.  “I had no idea Neil was going to pull this shit.”

“Trust you?” Stormy scoffed.  “You have got to be fucking kidding me.  You’re a horrible person, Kelly.  I don’t trust you to tell me what time it is.” 

“I’ll tell you what time it is,” Kelly lamented.  “It’s time you stop punishing me for something I had no control over.” 

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the way your family treated me, which was the only reason I left here in the first place.  If you’d have stood up for me a little more none of this would have happened.” 

“That is such bullshit,” he mumbled, adjusting his Wayfarers while not taking his eyes off the store.  “You taunted Miranda and my mother since the day you stepped foot in that house.  It’s a miracle that they didn’t kick your ass out of town to-“

He stopped mid-sentence when he spotted Neil emerge from the store, R.J. securely strapped to his front inside a baby harness.  Quickly, he grabbed the duffel bag from the back seat and pulled at the door handle. 

“Come on,” he said and jumped out of the car.  When he reached the pavement, he nodded to a white convertible two cars down where Eddie sat vigilantly in sunglasses and a baseball hat.

Kelly followed him through the crowded parking lot and to the front of the supermarket. 

“What’s she doing here?” Neil asked, eyes narrowing on Kelly.

“I’m giving her back to you,” Stormy said.  “As soon as I get my son back, I don’t want to lay eyes on her again.” 

“She isn’t part of the bargain,” Neil said.  “She can stay here for all I care.”

“You asshole!” Kelly screeched, hands on her hips.  “That’s my baby you’re trying to sell off.  If you think you can ditch me and take off with the money you can forget it.” 

“It’s not up for discussion,” Neil said with a wink as R.J. squirmed in the harness.  “Sorry, sweetheart.  You were a good lay, but a total pain in the ass.” 

“Douchebag,” Kelly said, raising his hand to hit him before Stormy stopped her mid-air. 

The commotion propelled R.J. to begin crying, onlookers turning to gawk at the spectacle. 

“Take your hands off me, you cunt,” Neil spat, fighting Kelly off with his hand. 

“I stuck by you when you had no other clients!” Kelly raged.  “You were lucky to have me, buddy boy.  I’m a freakin’ star!  And you couldn’t even get me a single job!”

“The only job you’ll ever get is giving blowjobs, now get your finger out of my face or I swear to God I’ll take this kid and you’ll never see him again!”

The argument continued to flare and more shoppers stopped to watch the spectacle.  Stormy stood by anxiously, wanting nothing more than to grab his son and go.  But one wrong move and Neil could take off, or worse yet, R.J. could be hurt in the struggle. 

Panicked, Neil looked around and made eye contact with two police officers who were coming out of the store.  Not wanting to attract any more attention, he made a mad dash for his rented car that was parked two rows away. 

“Stop him!” Stormy yelled and pointed to Neil.  “He’s got my son!” 

Quickly, the police officers went into action, racing over to the car and banging on the window as Neil propelled the car through the heavy traffic of the parking lot. 

Eddie, having seen the commotion, started his car and drove after Neil, who wove through pedestrians as they left their cars and made their way up to the store.  He blocked Neil in near the entrance off Santa Monica.  But unwilling to succumb to capture, Neil floored the car and drove over the curb, directly into the path of an oncoming truck that sideswiped him and sent his car flying into the next lane.  

The car flipped once and landed on its roof, sliding across the road and causing several oncoming cars to hit their brakes and spin out of control. 

Stormy saw the events unfold with his heart in his throat.  Panicked, he dashed to the street.  He no longer heard R.J. crying.  Silence permeated the area until the sound of sirens in the distance began to approach. 

 


Next time....

Jane tries to be there for Stormy in his time of need.  Kelly makes a decision about her future.  Brett searches for Suzanne. Sierra goes to Ashton for advice.  Benji and Sierra get surprising news.  

 

 

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